By Bill Hartzer
When you chose to register your U.K. business as a Limited Company, you’ve decided to tell the world that you’re professional and prestigious. Establishing this image is important not only in the real world, but in the virtual world, as well. Online, it’s extremely important to portray the best company image possible, from the way you show up in search engine results to how your website looks.
When it comes to search engine results, your website URL – also known as your domain name – matters. When web surfers see your URL, they usually make a decision whether or not to click through to your website within seconds, or even faster.
Having a great domain name helps encourages search engine visitors to click. A long, confusing, hard-to-read domain name? Not so much.
The Internet is expanding, and one of the ways it’s expanding is by offering us more choices in URL extensions. You’re now able to choose from – literally – hundreds of new “not-com” domain endings, giving you the chance to seize a great domain name that is attractive to both search engines and everyday people.
For example, if the “great” .co.uk domain name you wanted for your Limited Company is already taken, one of the newest options in domain endings is a .Ltd domain name. Yes, as in, .Ltd for “Limited.”
Take a look and decide for yourself which looks better:
As a digital marketer, I would choose the CompanyName.Ltd because it’s shorter, easier to type and it’s very obvious that the company is a “Limited” company. This last point alone demonstrates prestige and a dash of digital forward-thinking to prospective customers and clients.
The SEO value of new domains
But it’s just not marketers who are excited about not-com domain extensions. The search engines are treating these new domain endings (such as .Ltd) the same as they are any other domain ending (such as .co.uk).
In fact, Google recently went on the record saying so: “New domain endings are not treated any differently than traditional domain name endings like .com or .org. Domain names with new endings are shown in search just like any other domain name.”
This is good news because your website on an .Ltd has just as good a chance to show up high in the search engine results, such as in Google’s search results, as any other domain name.
As a search engine marketer myself, and having practiced search engine marketing and search engine optimization since the mid-1990s, I have been very curious to know whether or not the hundreds of new domain name endings will help marketing efforts online. I’ve been studying these new domain endings, also called new gTLDs, for several years now.
I’ve seen hundreds of success stories, from companies that have started their new business on a new domain ending, to some that have migrated their websites to a better, more descriptive domain name on one of the new domain endings. I haven’t come across a single story where a company moving to a new, not-com domain name had disastrous results — they’ve all been beneficial. And as long as their domain name migrations to the new domain names were done correctly, they’ve seen very positive results.
Examples of SEO Success
Let’s take, for example, an attorney (solicitor) in the United States, Eric S. Block. HisEricBlockLaw.com website was not showing up well in Google’s search results. In fact, his website wasn’t being found at all for most of his preferred keywords — not even on the first or second page of Google’s search results. Mr. Block moved to a new, better, shorter, more descriptive domain name —Jacksonville.attorney — and shortly thereafter his website began showing up on the first page of Google’s search results. And it’s now ranking very well for his preferred top keyword, “Jacksonville attorney.” Read more about the Jacksonville.attorney case.
Another website, a car dealership in the United States, moved from a longer domain name to a more descriptive one, as well. St. Louis Motorcars was using STLMotorcars.com, and they moved toSTL.cars. They moved their website to the new domain name and, in fact, saw increases in their search engine rankings for their top keywords, as well. Read more about the STL.cars case.
Tips for a successful .Ltd migration
When it comes to evaluating the potential for new .Ltd domain endings, there are a few questions you should consider:
— Is the new domain name you’re considering a shorter, better domain name? Shorter is better, and easier to remember. It takes up less “screen real estate.
— Is your company actually a Limited Company? You’ll want to secure that distinction first if you’re planning to represent yourself that way online.
— Will you move your existing website to the new web address, or build a new site from scratch?
And here are a few best practice elements to keep in mind:
— Consider making your new .Ltd domain name an HTTPs secure website. HTTPs is a search engine ranking factor, so it’s important to make sure that your website a secure one.
— If you’re planning to move your existing website, make sure that you move the website properly so you don’t lose any search engine positioning. Hire a qualified SEO consultant or SEO agency to help with the transition and migration. An SEO consultant or agency can let you know if it’s better to make the transition to the new .Ltd domain over time (especially if you have a very large website).
— Redirecting your new .Ltd domain name to the old domain name is not ideal, as it won’t help your search engine rankings or visibility in search. However, it still remains an option if you want to use the .Ltd domain name at a later date.
Whatever you decide, securing your .Ltd domain name is key, especially if it is a shorter, more preferred domain name. These domains sell on a first-come-, first-served basis, so it’s a good idea to seize the one you want now, even if you’re not yet sure how or when you’ll start using it.
Search engines fully recognize new domain name endings, and .Ltd is no different. Properly moving your website to the new .Ltd domain name is a great move — and you may even see better search engine rankings as a result.
To purchase your own .Ltd domain, click here.
For more information about other new domain options, click here.
Bill Hartzer is a world-renowned search engine optimization (SEO) expert with more than 20 years of experience. He is Senior VP of Agency Services at Advice Interactive, which offers local search management technologies and digital marketing services to small-to-medium-sized businesses, agencies and national brands. Hartzer formerly served as Senior SEO Strategist for Globe Runner. Prior to that, he was the Director of SEO at Standing Dog, and managed the Search Engine Marketing division of Vizion Interactive and MarketNet. He writes frequently for Search Engine Journal, Practice eCommerce Magazine and on his own blog.